Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Stage 4
Despite rumblings from the sky and the field, the general classification at the 2009 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic remained unchanged on the final day.
Edwige Pital (Sorella Forte) showed her off world championship track palmares winning the stage and the overall classification. The rest of the GC contenders, Robin Farina and Leah Goldstein (ValuAct), Patricia Bailey (Wines of Washington) and Melissa McWhirter (Veloforma) all finished in the top fifteen to keep the standings intact.
Pitel, former Mt. Hood winner Goldstein and McWhirter all kept their places atop the final podium.
The Trek Red Truck team collected their second win of the stage race as Jamie Sparling took the sprint out of the lead group consisting of Justin England (California Giant-Specialized), Aaron Olson (Oakley-SIDI) and Corey Collier (Rio Grande).
Leader Paul Mach (Bissell) finished 34 seconds later in the peloton; but retained his overall lead over Chris Baldwin (OUCH), also in the group. Rio Grande’s Collier missed the crit podium but moved into third overall after a putting in consistent performances throughout the race.
Value Act Capital
Leah Goldstein was in a tight battle with Edwige Pitel, a multi-time French national champion, and a teammate of Jeannie Longo's. With only a mere 8 seconds behind, Goldstein tried to shake Pitel in the criterium today. But Pitel showed why she's a former champion, by winning the criterium, ahead of VAC's Farina, who took second place. "Our plan was to make the race hard, and set Leah up for the win," claimed Farina. "But Edwige stuck on Leah all day long and came around for the win today. She's a true champion." Farina ended up 4th overall on GC.
Quch p/by Maxxis
Baldwin finishes 2nd overall at Mt. Hood.
Chris Baldwin of the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented came into the final stage of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Sunday needing to make up a 13-second gap to race leader Paul Mach (Bissell). But the tight, windy 1 km course provided little opportunity for the team’s newest member to escape and put time on Mach.
“It’s a bit frustrating not to capitalize on the small margin,” he said. Instead, Baldwin finished in the main pack and easily preserved 2nd place overall.
The day before, on the Wy’East Road Race, Hood’s queen stage, Baldwin was aggressive in trying to shake Mach to close down what was then a 15-second gap. Baldwin had help from teammate Roman Kilun in setting up attacks going into the final climb, but with the team’s third rider, Jonathan Chodroff, out of the race after being taken out in a crash, Baldwin was on the wrong end of a numbers game with Bissell. He put in several attacks near the end of the finishing climb trying to dislodge the young Bissell rider from his wheel. But at the stage’s end, he was unable to get away, settling for second place on the stage just ahead of Mach.
“They got a bit of time on me during the first road stage Thursday, and Mach was able to do a really strong time trial the next day,” Baldwin said. So strong that the two-time national time trial champion was only able to gain three seconds on the Bissell rider despite winning the stage. “On Saturday, all he had to do was follow my wheel. Give him credit. He rode a strong, smart race.”
Though he was frustrated with finishing 2nd, overall Baldwin was pleasantly surprised with how well the race went. He finished with one stage win, a 2nd place and a 3rd place, to go along with Chodroff’s 3rd place in the time trial.
“When I first talked to Mike (Tamayo, OUCH P/by Maxxis directeur sportif), we looked at this race as more for training,” Baldwin said. “I didn’t know how I was going to feel with the new equipment. That’s a really personal thing. The first road stage was only the second ride I did on my new Kuota, and the first one was for about an hour the evening before. Some guys can get on a new bike and just go. I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I’ve very finicky.
“But I like adjusting to new stuff during a race,” he added. “You don’t think about it as much because you’re more focused on the racing. And as the race went on, we started thinking more about winning it. I think we were just outnumbered a bit.”
Catching up with Ben Jacques-Maynes
By KELLY O'CONNOR Posted: 06/24/2009 01:30:22 AM PDT
If you have to lose a bike race, it might as well be to seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
That was Watsonville's Ben Jacques-Maynes' thought after finishing second to Armstrong at the 49th annual Nevada City Classic on Father's Day.
"Second is the best I could have done that day," Jacques-Maynes, of Team Bissell, said Tuesday. "I really can't complain."
Jacques-Maynes finished 20 seconds behind Armstrong, completing the race in 1 hour, 28 minutes and 40 seconds. Jacques-Maynes, 30, topped third-place finisher Levi Leipheimer, Armstrong's Astana teammate, by 1 second, and 101 other riders in the 35-lap race.
It was Armstrong's first race victory after a 3½-year absence from the sport.
The Nevada City Classic is heralded as one of the most challenging races in the country. The 1.1-mile, seven-turn loop through the historic mining town features more than 110 feet of climbing per lap. Racers reach speeds of 50-plus mph on the straight-away downhill across the start/finish line. The course features equal distributions of downhill, uphill and rolling flats segments.
"It is a truly epic race," said Jacques-Maynes. "You basically go straight up and straight down -- you have to have your wits about you."
Jacques-Maynes said he rides at least 100 miles each ride to train for stage and trial races.
"It's not a bike ride if you don't ride through three counties," he said.
In February, Leipheimer three-peated as champion of the Tour of California, which included a stage that ended in Santa Cruz. Jacques-Maynes was named Most Courageous Rider in Stage 2.
Sunday, Armstrong and Leipheimer took turns attacking throughout the race. Only Jacques-Maynes could respond, but Armstrong came out ahead.
"We traded off doing two laps easy, two laps hard but we couldn't shake Ben," Armstrong told cyclingnews.com. "After we couldn't shake Ben we just said we will just go easy until the end and then we will figure it out."
Armstrong, Leipheimer and teammate Chris Horner raced Nevada City as a team in preparation for the Tour De France, which runs from July 4-26.
"Those guys are the ones dishing out the pain," Jacques-Maynes said of Armstrong and Leipheimer. "I didn't win, but I had front row seats to the best show available."
Jacques-Maynes' next race will be the American Velodrome Challenge on Friday and Saturday at the Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose. Racing starts at 7 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.
Follow Link to View Andy Jacques-Maynes and Lance Armstrong in Nevada City
Lance-mania Engulfs Nevada City
By Mark Deterline
Lance Armstrong and Shelly Olds won their respective Nevada City Classics on Sunday, both using strong solo efforts to ride to victory in the 49th annual race through the Northern California mining town.
The Proman team softened the women’s field up with a blend of tempo and aggression before Olds delivered the final blow, racing off alone to take the win.
Armstrong, meanwhile, joined an early three-man break with Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) that eventually lapped the field, cheered on by a crowd that race director Duane Strawser estimated at about 20,000.
Clad in Livestrong livery, the seven-time Tour de France champion went it alone with six laps to race, taking a lead of a dozen seconds as he churned out 2.5-minute laps on the 1.1-mile, seven-turn circuit with 120 feet of climbing per go-round.
With one lap to go, Armstrong had nearly doubled his advantage as Leipheimer and Chris Horner monitored the pursuit. And just a couple minutes later he shot down Broad Street and crossed the line alone, arms raised, to claim the first victory in his comeback from retirement.
A race with history
The Armstrong win marked another memorable moment for a race whose history dates back nearly half a century. Duane Strawser, president of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, and his wife, Connie, can largely be credited with the modern-day revival of the race. Owners of the local bike shop, the Strawsers have been motivated more by love than by prestige or profits.
“Of course it’s ironic that we have worked so hard to secure media exposure over the years, largely in vain, and are now getting an overwhelming amount of attention with Lance here,” said Strawser. “But that’s how it works and we’re naturally delighted about it.”
According to some locals, in the 1970s the race enjoyed an enthusiasm and festive atmosphere like that seen on Sunday, due in no small part to the appearance of the Astana trio.
“It feels now like it did decades ago,” said longtime race volunteer Molly Breen, a resident of the area since the ‘60s and of Nevada City since the ‘70s. “People used to come and watch the race because there was something going on downtown, not because of the interest in seeing a celebrity like Lance Armstrong.”
The Nevada City course is widely considered one of the most difficult racing circuits in the West. The 1.1-mile course starts on the town’s sloping main drag – Broad Street – looking downhill at the first turn, a tight 90-degree bend just a few hundred meters from the start/finish.
The sketchiest part of the course comes in turn two, because riders see what looks heading into it like a broader curve, which narrows as they come out of it. The course continues counterclockwise and climbs back to the top of Broad Street for a thrilling descent through the start/finish area.
Teamwork delivers Olds to victory
Olds’ Proman teammates quickly strung out the field in the women’s race, with Helene Drumm setting the pace before Rachel Neylan attacked to draw out their opponents.
Neylan served as the decoy to set up the much anticipated, but equally indefensible, counter-attack and winning solo move by Olds.
National criterium and road race champ Brooke Miller (TIBCO) tried to keep the Proman onslaught in check, but in the end settled for a fine second place with Katerina Nash (Luna) taking third.
The Lance and Levi show
The men’s race began with a little sleight of hand from Armstrong, who appeared with Leipheimer and Horner shortly before the call-ups and answered questions from fellow competitors and the press.
Asked why he was racing Nevada City with the Tour just around the corner, Armstrong replied that it was partly due to the event’s history, course and fans. He added that Nevada City remains a tough race, something that can only help at this point in the year. Being 37 years old — and having spent nearly four years off the bike — has made his return to racing something of a challenge, he acknowledged.
Asked to predict a winner for the day, Armstrong simply offered, “Uh, Levi’s gonna win.”
The race began with a neutral lap that brought the pack of more than 100 riders back down toward the finish line with Armstrong tucked in at about 15th. Then Leipheimer attacked and took two riders with him.
Armstrong allowed a gap to open as he sat in fourth position, then joined the move, which quickly shrank to three riders — Armstrong, Leipheimer and Jacques-Maynes — while Horner sat on former winner Justin England (California Giant Berry Farms) and Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) in a three-man chase.
A large number of riders either abandoned when the pace heated up or were pulled by officials to keep the tight course as safe as possible for the leaders, who would lap several groups – some more than once – by the end of the race.
Then, a half-dozen laps from the finish, Armstrong attacked, opening up a gap on the chasing Jacques-Maynes with Leipheimer sitting in. He soloed to victory, arms raised and fists pumping triumphantly skyward.
Jacques-Maynes hung on for second with Leipheimer third.
The lead trio made it seem easy, but it wasn’t, Leipheimer said afterward.
“Today hurt, actually,” he said. “A bit of a shock – the first since a hot, hilly Giro.”
And Armstrong? Some wondered whether his appearance at Nevada City was an indication that he was taking the Tour de France less seriously. It was a notion he quickly put to rest.
“No,” replied Armstrong, “it was important to get in an intense day today; it happened to fall on this day. Ninety minutes of the kind of watts we were putting out were what we needed to remind the body of what we need to do.”
BISSELL on the Podium at 3 Major US Races This Weekend!
It was an outstanding weekend for BISSELL racing with Frank Pipp leading the GC in Wisconsin’s Dairyland, Graham Howard taking 2nd at the Village of Northstar resort in Tahoe, and Ben Jacques-Maynes being part of history with his 2nd behind Lance Armstrong’s return to victory in Nevada City.
The ten stage Tour of America’s Dairyland started on Thursday with a 141k stage in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. Frank Pipp got th
ings underway in good form taking 4th on the day. He continued to ride a solid race in Waterloo’s Stage 2, but Saturday night’s Grafton Crit was a harder fought battle where Frank had to deal with some dicey racing. He did take 5th for the stage and was able to move into the overall lead. Frank’s great 2nd place finish in Sunday’s Manitowoc’s Stage 4 helped to secure his hold on the leader’s yellow cow print jersey!
Meanwhile out west, Graham Howard, Paul Mach, and Omer Kem were targeting the Tour de Nez. The goal for the trio was to safely get through the first two crits in Truckee and Reno and target the 90 minute Northstar Circuit Race. All went according to plan and the threesome came into the final day in good shape. The course was a 2 mile circuit with cobbled sections and tough climbs. Just 10 minutes into the race, Jesse Moore (Cal Giant) attacked the group. The solo escapee was soon joined by Graham Howard (BISSELL) and the twosome ruled the race until they were finally joined by Moore’s teammate, Justin England, with just 5 laps to go. Graham was definitely in a tough place as odd man out with the two Cal Giant riders together. England led Moore out for the win and Graham took a well earned 2nd.
The team’s great racing was capped off with an amazingly electrifying race at the Nevada City Classic. The race was highlighted by the appearance of Astana riders, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Chris Horner, who are in final preparations for the Tour de France. The crowds were estimated at 25,000 and rocked the streets with enthusiasm and excitement. Just 2 laps into the 35 lap race, Levi attacked the field and he was joined by teammate, Lance Armstrong, and Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL). The threesome totally dominated the race building up a two minute gap and eventually lapping the field. The attacks exploded in the final 10 laps with Lance and Levi alternating their efforts against Ben. Finally Ben had to choose which one of the attacks to let go, and Lance got away free with 6 laps to go. With some help from BISSELL riders in the lapped field, Ben tried to mount a chase; however, Armstrong was too strong. Lance Armstrong won the Nevada City Classic with Ben Jacques-Maynes taking 2nd, and Levi Leipheimer rounding out the podium in 3rd. After the race, Lance was quoted as saying, "hats off to BJM for today's ride. He was very strong. Had us scratching our heads for sure."
Race Report by Graham Howard:
This past weekend I attended the tour de mont pleasant, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with the Bissell elite masters team. The race featured a Saturday criterium in downtown Mt. Pleasant as well as a Sunday road race through Isabella County. Saturday's race was fast and aggressive. The Kenda Pro cycling team along with the Panther / RGF cycling team and the Jet Fuel team came for the weekend of racing in Mt. Pleasant, so the Michigan field had the opportunity to sample racing with a little more horsepower. Despite a fairly aggressive criterium, the field stayed all together and came down to a field sprint. I miscounted the laps and went for the finish one lap too early, so I didn't place. Jason and Derek however managed to get into the sprint and both managed to place in the top ten.
Sunday's Road Race, at 105 miles, was a longer affair than is often encountered in Michigan. The Bissell team decided that we didn't want to do any more work than we had to for the first 70-80 miles. Other teams had different tactics, however, and a break of eight formed about 10 miles into the race after a hard cross wind section. I found my way into the group, along with Greg Christian and David Campbell (Panther / RGF), Ben Renkema and Jake Rytlewski (Kenda), Tom Burke (Lathrup / Giant), Mark Olson (Priority Health) and a rider from the Mad Anthony Brewery team. Jake, Greg and Tom immediately got to work. Mark Olson and I, having full teams sitting in the field, and no interest in flogging ourselves for 95 miles, sat on the back of the group. Undeterred by our disinterest, the other six pressed on with full strength. Slowly but surely the peloton disappeared behind us until they were no longer visible. Time gaps were hard to come across, but from what we were able to gather from feed zone hollering, we were roughly six minutes up on the peloton and more than likely would stay clear to the finish. The two Panther / RGF riders proved strongest and most aggressive as they began attacking the group, still 20 miles from the finish. I had fresh legs from sitting on all day and followed two or three efforts before one finally stuck with Greg and Mark. Greg and I rolled hard until the last kilometer when I dropped behind him and forced him to lead out the sprint. He put in a couple of good digs, but I managed to come around in the last 100m to take the win. The rest of the Bissell boys all came in strong at the front of the field kick a few minutes later.
This was a first year event, but a really spectacular one. The courses were terrific, the community support was wonderful and everything ran smoothly. Thanks to all those who helped put it on, I hope it happens again next year.
Zirbel Forced to Take 2nd; BISSELL Wins Team Classification
In the final lap of the Stillwater Crit, Rory Sutherland (OUCH) went on the attack and was able to unseat Tom Zirbel (BISSELL) by 3 seconds for the overall win. The Stillwater course lived up to its notoriety on Sunday when the Chilkoot Hill with its average 18% grade was the determining factor. An attack 5 laps into the race by Floyd Landis (OUCH) was the first action for the day. Landis built up a max 20 second gap while BISSELL did an excellent job riding steady tempo at the front of the main group. With frequent attacks out of the peloton, the break completely reshuffled throughout the 60 minutes with new legs bridging up and replacing the tired that dropped back. Through it all, BISSELL stayed composed and in control on the front. With 3 laps to go, OUCH heightened the pace in the group, and in the final lap Sutherland attacked and was able to bridge up to the leading duo of Phillip Mamos (Amore & Vita) and Anthony Colby (Colavita). In the chase up Chilkoot, Tom, unfortunately, lost momentum when he was forced to tap his breaks due to the OUCH lead-out tactics. Sutherland came across behind Mamos and Colby to beat Tom to the line by 10 seconds giving him the few seconds that he needed to take the overall.
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team rode an outstanding race this week. They consistently rode a superior race from the opening time trial with 5 BISSELL riders in the top 10 to their smart race tactics demonstrated throughout the 6 stages. The strength of the team was further verified with the win in the overall team classification.
Great Work in the Break Keeps Tom Safe
Tom Zirbel maintained his lead in the GC after an unpredictable day of racing. An early break by Tyler Stanfield (Kenda) at 20k into the race was the precursor for the day’s break that led to a stage victory for amateur racer, Andrew Crater (Wheel & Sprocket). Stanfield was soon joined by 7 other riders including BISSELL’s Cody O’Reilly. The group grew to a maximum number of 14 over the course of the day as riders bridged across. One of the riders to successfully bridge was Kirk O’Bee (BISSELL) bringing BISSELL’s representation in the break to 2. All top teams were there which led to some very tactical strategies being played out based on their teammates in the GC. The break seemed to be in good shape until Cyclismo eventually organized the chase to reduce the gap. As the agonizing final 4 circuits neared, only one rider, Chad Gerlach (Amore & Vita) remained in front solo. Attacks out of the main chase group dwindled the numbers in the peloton and the fast pace brought back all of the original break except for 3. Crater outsprinted his break mates for the win with Gerlach coming in 2nd and Mike Northey (Land Rover-Orbea) taking 3rd. The main peloton with the top riders in the GC came in 17 seconds behind. Cody O’Reilly was BISSELL’s highest placed rider of the day with a 7th place finish after his tremendous day of work in the break. The team’s excellent day’s work keeps Tom safely in the lead as they head into Sunday’s final stage.
BISSELL Protects the Leader
Thursday night's 60 mile Cannon Falls Road Race was a race of strategy between BISSELL and OUCH. BISSELL did a great job controlling the race even in the face of added pressure from 2 crashes involving Pete Latham and Frank Pipp. “BISSELL raced well, aggressively covered moves, and forced OUCH to chase us”, says race director, Eric Wohlberg. Attacking was the name of the game for the first 50 miles in Minnesota’s rolling farmland; however, the battle for the win came in the 5 two-mile finishing circuits. Colavita came to the front in the very fast last laps, and Sebastian Haedo (Colavita) led out teammate, Alejando Borrajo, for the win. BISSELL’s Kirk O’Bee and Pete Latham finished in the top ten. Tom Zirbel (BISSELL) maintained his 7 second lead over OUCH’s Rory Sutherland and Pete remains in third. BISSELL and OUCH will continue to battle it out for the GC; however, Colavita is slowly inching up with time bonuses for stage wins. Friday’s crit will continue to be key with a 15 second time bonus available for the win.
BISSELL Riders 1-3-4
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team started the Nature Valley Grand Prix in excellent form this morning taking 3 out of the 4 top places. Ben Jacques-Maynes was the forth rider to go off in the St. Paul Riverfront TT. Ben took the lead with a time of 12:56, and a BISSELL rider occupied the top spot for the remainder of the day. With over 75% of the riders through, Pete Latham unseated Ben by 2 seconds. Tom Zirbel was sixth from the final rider, and he came through with a blistering time of 12:36. BISSELL occupied the first, second, and third spots until the last rider, Rory Sutherland (OUCH), came in with a time of 12:49. Heading into this evening’s Downtown Saint Paul Crit, Tom leads with Pete in third and Ben in forth.
Stage 2 Goes According to Plan for BISSELL
BISSELL achieved their goal for the evening’s crit in downtown St. Paul and that was to defend the team’s positions in the GC and keep valuable time bonuses away from any threats to the overall. BISSELL let a break of 4 riders go up the road to take away the early time bonuses and then forced OUCH to bring back the break for a field sprint. Colavita took the win which played into BISSELL’s plan as it kept the time bonuses away from OUCH. BISSELL’s finish was hampered somewhat by a poorly timed mechanical which knocked Pete off of the Colavita led train and a crash early in the race hindered Kirk’s aggression in the finish. BISSELL’s plans for the Thursday’s 60 mile Cannon Falls Road Race remain the same: to defend the GC, and monitor the huge finishing time bonuses for each stage which can have a major effect on the GC.
BISSELL’s objectives for the final stage of Mt. Hood were very clear - to deliver Paul Mach to victory. The team’s roles were well defined for the day as Omer Kem, Burke Swindlehurst, and Morgan Schmitt controlled the front of the peloton, Graham Howard protected the race leader, and Paul Mach defended his lead. After a very aggressive first 15 minutes with a lot of attacking, an early break of 10 riders got off. Bissell was content to let the group hang in front as there were no threats to the GC in the break. The break of 10 eventually dwindled to 8 and BISSELL continued to command the peloton. Paul focused on matching all moves by Chris Baldwin (OUCH) who was 13 seconds behind Paul in the GC. Baldwin put everything out there to challenge Paul with attacks every few laps for the last half of the race, but Paul was there to counter all his moves. Jamie Sparling (Trek Red Truck) took the win over his original break mates, and all BISSELL riders came through in the main group thirty four seconds back. Paul defended his lead to get the overall victory. The outstanding teamwork shown by BISSELL all week was awarded with the win in the overall team classification.
Bissell’s Paul Mach and Edwige Pitel (Sorella Forte) held off final-stage challenges to lock up overall victories in Oregon’s Pacific Power Mt. Hood Cycling Classic on Sunday.
In the women’s race, Pitel ensured her victory over ValueAct Capital’s Leah Goldberg by winning Sunday’s Downtown Hood River Criterium. Similarly, in the men’s event, Chris Baldwin (OUCH-Maxxis) wasn’t able to fight past Bissell’s superior numbers to pull back 13 seconds from Mach, who won the overall GC on the time he gained in the first stage.
Mach holds them off
The small Trek-Red Truck team scored its second consecutive stage win in the men’s race when Jamie Sparling took the sprint from the remnants of an eight-man break that escaped early in the 70-minute criterium. Corey Collier was also a big winner on the day, moving from sixth to third overall by jumping into the break and finishing fourth behind Sparling, Justin England (California Giant-Specialized) and Aaron Olson (Oakley-Sidi).
Sparling said he knew Bissell would probably let a breakaway go early if it wasn’t a threat to Mach’s overall so that the winners could gobble up the time bonuses given to the top three. Once in the break, the Canadian rider worked hard but decided to leave the primes alone.
“I knew I had the legs to take the sprint if it came down to a few guys,” he said. “And I rode smarter than I ever have. I was looking at the guys (in the break) and it didn’t look like there were any GC contenders, or anyone too close, so I thought Bissell would let it roll, and they did. So it was awesome.”
Sparling said memories of the 2008 race motivated him to jump into the break early and start working.
“Last year at this crit’, all I remember is our manager on the radio saying we were tail gunning and just being a little angry with us for not getting in the breaks,” he said. “So this year I had to make up for it.”
With a safe breakaway up the road about 30 seconds, Bissell’s Burke Swindlehurst, Omer Kem, Graham Howard and Morgan Schmitt rode herd on the field and kept Baldwin’s constant attacking in check. While Mach had four teammates guarding his lead, Baldwin’s OUCH-Maxxis was trimmed to just one other rider, Roman Kilun, after John Chodroff got caught up in Stage 3 crash and had to abandon the race.
“Not even close,” Baldwin said of his efforts to pull back the time. “I wasn’t going to be able to pull back one inch. I don’t have the skills to pull off that maneuver. That’s not my skill set. Same situation as yesterday, all (Bissell) has to do is watch one guy. They won the race on the first road stage with a five-man team, and they did a good job. It’s game over.”
In fact, Mach won April’s Cherry Blossom Classic in nearby The Dalles, Oregon, with the same tactic, gaining enough time on the first stage to secure the overall and putting his teammates to work on the front for the rest of the race.
“It was going to be hard for Baldwin with all the help I had from my teammates,” Mach said. “I missed my clip-in at the start (of the criterium), so that was bad. But my team was taking care of me. I didn’t really have to worry; got to watch it all.”
An ‘inexperienced’ Pitel seals the deal
Pitel admitted the day before Sunday’s criterium that she had little experience with the largely American-style of racing. Less than 24 hours later she won the race in front of hard-charging pack of experienced Americans.
“I enjoyed it. It was fast and fun,” Pitel said after her win. “I like it, actually.”
As in the men’s race with Mach and Baldwin, Pitel had just one real threat to her overall lead in ValueAct’s Goldstein, who started the day just eight seconds down after some overnight time changes trimmed a few seconds.
“I just thought, I’m not going for the win, I’ll just stick on her wheel,” Pitel said. “I have an eight-second gap, I just must be in front of her and that will be safe. And then I saw that nobody was taking a gap. It was attacking and coming back, attacking and coming back, because everybody wanted a part of the cake.”
But as the group neared the end of the race still intact, Pitel’s thoughts turned to grabbing a little more of that “cake” for herself.
“I thought if we’re all together on the last lap, I’ll go for the win,” she said.
True to form, Pitel took a flyer on the last lap and held off the field for the win, adding to her victories in the prologue and stage 2.
“I went around all the girls on the last corner and then went first downhill and through the corner in first position,” she said. “Then I went flat out, and that was it.”
Goldstein praised Pitel’s racing.
“She did what she was supposed to do,” Goldstein said. “She stuck to me like a leach and I could not get rid of her.”
Goldstein made attacks, but said, in retrospect, that she may have tried a little too early.
“I was bit too antsy,” she said. “But I did the best I could. There was a slim chance of getting rid of her. She’s too strong. And when you’re wearing the yellow jersey you have extra power.”
BISSELL Commands Control
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team continued to take command of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Friday night’s criterium was a new course which moved uptown to race in front of a very fervent crowd. BISSELL ruled the race and was very selective in who was allowed to move up the course. Thomas Soladay (Mountain Khaki) did get ahead to capture all 3 intermediate sprints and further his hold on the sprinters jersey before getting reabsorbed. Meanwhile, BISSELL and Mountain Khaki’s kept the speeds very high to deter any escapes. With 9 laps to go, BISSELL handed over the reigns to Jelly Belly who was setting up their rider, Brad Huff, for the sprint finish. Jelly Belly continued to keep the pace high and the pressure on. Again, Sebastian Haedo (Colavita) came through for the win with Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) in 2nd, and Andrew Pinfold (OUCH) in 3rd. To further validate BISSELL’s domination of the race, Cody O’Reilly won the most aggressive jersey, and Frank Pipp, Andy Jacques-Maynes, and Cody took points for intermediate sprints. Tom Zirbel maintained his 7 second lead over Rory Sutherland (OUCH), but by nature of the winning time bonus Haedo bumped Peter Latham back to 4th overall. Saturday’s Mankato Road Race will likely make the final selections for the GC. The 137k queen stage is well suited for BISSELL’s strengths with the grueling climb on each of the 4 short finishing circuits. The BISSELL Team is totally committed to their goal to maintain Tom’s position as the overall leader.
Mach Retains Yellow – Kem and Howard Super Domestiques
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team had a successful day protecting Paul Mach’s lead and delivering him to the finish in 3rd place. Paul came across 1 second behind winner, Rob Britton (Trek Red Truck Racing), and had the same time as 2nd place finisher, Chris Baldwin (OUCH). Graham Howard and Omer Kem did an outstanding job controlling the field for the majority of the race today, and Burke Swindlehurst and Morgan Schmitt came through as reinforcements in the last 10k. There was considerable attacking by Chris Baldwin heading up to the finish; however, Paul was close on his wheel keeping things in check. The major casualty of the day for BISSELL was when Morgan went down fairly hard with 1 hour to go. With great fortitude, he was able to get a bike replacement and forge ahead, but he dropped to 5th in the GC. The BISSELL Team will again be policing the front of tomorrow’s crit protecting Paul’s 13 second lead ahead of 2nd place Baldwin. The BISSELL Team comfortably retains the lead in the overall Team GC.
Paul Maintains Lead in GC
BISSELL’s Paul Mach rode a fierce time trial on Friday into ferocious headwinds where he came through with the 2nd fastest time and held onto the overall race lead! The winds were blowing uncharacteristically out of the west with gusts up to 22 mph and turned the already brutal day into an even more punishing event. The fastest rider on the day was OUCH’s Chris Baldwin who came in 3 seconds quicker than Paul. At the first time check of the day, Paul was 3 seconds up on Chris and at 4 miles to go the two riders were even. It was a very close battle with Chris just inching out Paul; however, Paul’s 18 second lead over Baldwin in the GC going into the day’s TT holds Paul’s place as overall leader. The other BISSELL riders combated the winds as Morgan Schmitt took 3rd, Burke Swindlehurst 12th, Graham Howard 17th, and Omer Kem 23rd. “It was a crazy headwind”, says BISSELL’s Burke Swindlehurst who notes that his TT was about 4 minutes faster last year in a tailwind. The BISSELL Team also leads the Team GC.
The BISSELL Team is prepared to control tomorrow’s Wy’East Road Race. Graham Howard and Omer Kem will be BISSELL’s chief defender s in Saturday’s battle which will take the riders 92 miles and see huge elevation gains from a lowest point at 1,000ft to the uphill finish at 5,000ft. Glen Mitchell is confident in BISSELL’s ability to hold the lead. “Paul is showing great form. It will be hard for Chris to beat him”, says Mitchell. Paul holds a 15 second lead over Baldwin heading into tomorrow’s stage.
Mach In Yellow
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team was in great form for Thursday’s Copper Spur Circuit Race where they took 1st and 2nd for the day. In a very tight finish, BISSELL’s Paul Mach took the stage 1 victory and Morgan Schmitt came across close behind in 2nd. The 86 mile circuit race was made up of 4 laps and an uphill finish. A break of 4 got away early; however due to considerable pressure on the group, a rider was dropped every lap. After the 3rd lap, only 2 riders remained in the break and going into the final lap only Dan Martin (Safeway) sat in the lead with a 4 minute time gap. BISSELL’s Omer Kem and Graham Howard lead the chase at the front of the peloton and caught Martin 5k from the finish. With their job done, Graham and Morgan regrouped for the tough finish destined to come. Constant attacks shot off from the front but the successful move came from Mach. In a very close finish, Paul took the win with Morgan on his wheel for 2nd. Justin England (California Giant) came across for third. The time bonuses awarded will aid Paul and Morgan as they go into tomorrow’s stage with a narrow margin separating the top GC. Paul leads the GC and will go off last in the spectacular but tough 18.5 mile Scenic Gorge Time Trial.
By Heidi Swift
Coming off a week of seriously cycling-worthy warm weather, Oregon is gearing up for the 2009 Mt Hood Cycling Classic - a five-day, leg-breaking stage race renowned as much for its incredible difficulty as for its breath-taking beauty. The forecast is calling for the best conditions that MHCC has seen in its seven-year history and professional racers have flocked to Mt Hood from as far as France to get in on a piece of the action.
Presented by Pacific Power, the race will return to its roots in 2009, bringing back the popular 3.1 mile Panorama Point Prologue to kick things off in the small community of Pine Grove, Oregon. The remaining stages will take the peloton past the picturesque orchards of the Upper Hood River Valley, through the historic Mosier tunnels and along the cliffside Rowena Loops, up to the Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort and finally into downtown Hood River for a challenging criterium course.
Indeed, it's one of Bissell's Burke Swindlehurst's favorite events, "The courses here are amazing - great terrain and terrific beauty."
But the beauty won't come without a price. The pro men's race will cover nearly 250 miles and climb almost 25,000 feet while the women will climb nearly 23,000 feet in just 200 miles. And if the weather forecast actually pans out (hey, it's Oregon, don't count on anything), competitors can expect temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees as they battle up the 10,500 feet elevation gain that Saturday's infamous Wy'East Road Race will throw at them.
With both the men's and women's defending champions (OUCH's Rory Sutherland and TIBCO's Julie Beveridge) racing in Philadelphia this week, the top spots are up for grabs and the battle for the podium should yield some top-notch racing.
Swindlehurst, England bring backup
Bissell Pro Cycling (currently sitting on top of the NRC team standings) will come out swinging, looking to have Burke Swindlehurst in the leader's jersey when the dust settles on Sunday afternoon. One of the strongest and most experienced climbers in the domestic scene, Swindlehurst (2nd at Gila, 3rd at Redlands and 4th at Tour of Utah in 2008) is well positioned to make a run at the GC. "The TT will be critical because it's so long [18.5 miles] and typically the winner of the TT ends up winning the overall, but I had an encouraging time trial at Gila this year and the course profile suits me since there is some significant climbing. I feel good about my chances to win."
With much of the Bissell crew racing on the east coast this week and only four teammates riding support, they'll have to play it smart and race strategically to make it happen. Luckily, Swindlehurst has some climbing power in teammates Morgan Schmitt and Paul Mach but, however you look at it, Bissell will have their work cut out for them as other top contenders set their sights on GC victory.
Justin England and a full eight-man California-Giant/Specialized squad will be among those on the hunt. After a solid 2008 season with Toyota-United (5th at Gila, 7th at San Dimas and 8th at Redlands in 2008) England's 2009 form appears to be coming around. If England is going well and the team plays its cards right, they could be well-positioned to give Swindlehurst and the Bissell boys a serious run for their money. Also watch for Cal-Giant's record-setting Ironman champion and TT powerhouse, Chris Lieto, to shake things up and make a run at the stage 2 win at the Scenic Gorge Time Trial.
Baldwin looking for a victory in OUCH debut
Finally, officials confirmed yesterday that Chris Baldwin is registered to race the event in his first race for Team OUCH after leaving Rock Racing. Despite having only two teammates in town to ride support (Roman Kilun and John Chodroff), Baldwin presents a significant threat for the GC. With a 2006 win at Tour of the Gila and six podium-worthy overall finishes at major domestic stage races in the past two years (including Gila, Joe Martin, Tour de Toona, and Redlands), he's sure to be in contention for the glory this week in Hood River.
Others to keep an eye on include the top returning finisher (11th at MTCC in 2008), Mike Olheiser (Warp9bikes.com/TriStar), who won the Masters World Time Trial Championship and Masters National Road Racing Championship in 2006. Don't discount Team Rio Grande's Corey Collier, who is coming with a squad of five and has a few major top-10 finishes to his name and has been climbing well this year. Adrian Hegyvary (Hagens Berman) will have three teammates along to help him and is also looking solid after taking the time trial at the Cherry Blossom Stage Race earlier in April. Nathaniel English (ZteaM) and Benjamin King (Fly V Australia) have also both shown they're capable of dropping the hurt and will likely be looking to light things up for a stage win.
Goldstein ready to reclaim title, former French national champion could make things interesting
On the women's side, Leah Goldstein (ValueAct Capital) is back and looking to claim her 4th title. Goldstein took the overall at Mt Hood for three consecutive years (2005-2007) but was forced to settle for 3rd last year behind Julie Beveridge and Jeanne Longo-Ciprelli. After a slow start this year with an injury just before Redlands, Goldstein is feeling good and ready to make a run at the GC. "It will be different this year. We're going to race hard and have some fun," said Goldstein.
The 18.5-mile Scenic Gorge Time Trial, which features almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain, is perfectly suited to Goldstein's strengths and you can bet she's looking to repeat last year's stage win on that course. "That is the crucial stage for me - that and the Cooper Spur Circuit Race [stage 1]."
With strong local riders like Boise's Sarah Barber (Kristin Armstrong Cycling), Seattle's Tricia Bailey (Wines of Washington), Portland's Alice Pennington (Veloforma) and Coeur D'Alene's Heather Albert (Riverstone) in attendance, she'll have her work cut out for her. "Everyone is a threat to me - even if I don't know the name - I have to watch out for everyone."
She'll have to keep a particularly close eye on Edwige Pitel, who will be guest riding in Sorella Forte colors. Pitel, who boasts four national French championships (time trial in 2004 and 2005, road race in 2007 and track scratch in 2008) and two elite world championships in duathlon (long distance in 2000 and short distance 2003), presents a great unknown as things kickoff with tomorrow's lung-busting 3.1-mile prologue.
Luckily, Goldstein has the advantage of some serious firepower in teammate Robin Farina. Farina, who won the overall classification at Joe Martin Stage Race in 2008 is an aggressive racer, superb climber and talented time trialist. Sprinting and criterium specialist Martina Patella will also be on hand to work for Goldstein during the final criterium stage.
Paul Mach 2nd in Opening Prologue
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team nailed the 3.1 mile Mt. Hood Prologue taking 3 of the top 10 places. Paul Mach (BISSELL) conquered his first battle at Mt. Hood taking 2nd in Wednesday’s prologue. “I'd never done a TT that short before so didn't know what to expect. I gave it a go and finished 2nd “, says Mach. BISSELL’s Morgan Schmitt had the 4th fastest time and Burke Swindlehurst finished 8th. The BISSELL climbers are sitting in a good place as they take on the leg breaking five-day race.
All other trademarks are owned by BISSELL Homecare, Inc., maker of vacuum cleaners and other home cleaning products.